Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, widespread throughout the United States today. Trafficking of humans is the second largest criminal industry in the world after drug dealing, and is the fastest growing. Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of persons by means of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation. A person does not need to be transported to be considered a victim of trafficking. A large number of victims are trafficked within their own countries. Most victims of trafficking are forced to work in the commercial sex industry, such as prostitution or sex entertainment, or exploited for labor, such as domestic servitude or restaurant work, sweatshop factory work or migrant agricultural work.
Victims of trafficking can be any age, gender, or race, though women and children make up the largest group of victims. Force, fraud, or coercion is not required in the case of a minor engaged in sexual exploitation.
New Mexico Human Trafficking Law
The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office drafted Human Trafficking Legislation that was enacted in 2008 making Human Trafficking a criminal felony offense. New Mexico’s Human Trafficking Law mandates increased penalties for trafficking children and provides that human trafficking victims shall be eligible for benefits and services from the state until the victim qualifies for benefits and services authorized by the federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000.
Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000
The TVPA made Human Trafficking a federal crime with severe penalties. It also authorized public education and awareness programs. The TVPA also provides victims of trafficking who are non-US citizens with benefits and services to the same extent as refugees.
If you think you have come in contact with a victim of human trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1.888.373.7888 or call or text 505-GET-FREE to obtain information and to access supportive services. The NHTRC will help you identify local resources available in your community to help victims.
The Life Link, a New Mexico-based Core Service Agency and Social Services Organization since 1987, is New Mexico’s largest provider of services to victims of human trafficking, particularly those who have been involved in sex trafficking. Collaborating closely with the Office of the Attorney General and law enforcement agencies, The Life Link provides practical resources – including safe housing, medical care, benefit acquisition, and other services - to help trafficking victims rebuild their lives. As the victims begin to stabilize and re-establish a sense of personal safety, they are then engaged in The Life Link’s state-of-the-art clinical programs for treatment of trauma, addiction, and other serious mental health problems resulting from their experiences.
The program also recently launched the 505-GET-FREE hotline/textline to provide outreach to trafficked individuals in New Mexico and nationwide. By calling or texting the number at any time of the day or night, victims will be provided with help, information, and resources that will allow them to move forward with their lives.
For more information on The Human Trafficking Restoration Project at The Life Link, contact Program Director Lynn Sanchez at 505 913 9833, or visit the websites: www.thelifelink.org and www.505getfree.org.